Thursday gave us a full schedule across the National Hockey League and it was a very good night for goaltenders. Some of the top performances included a pair of shutouts and a rare goalie goal!
Rinne Scores Versus Blackhawks
The Nashville Predators were in Chicago last night to take on the Blackhawks in a big game as the two teams were separated by just one point when the puck dropped. New head coach John Hynes picked up his first win with the Predators in a 5-2 victory, but that is not what this game will be remembered for.
In the final minute of play, goaltender Pekka Rinne retrieved the puck from behind his own net and lofted towards the vacated Blackhawks’ cage. When the puck finished its journey, Rinne became the 12th goaltender in National Hockey League history to score a goal.
The excited voice you heard in the highlight was that of former Predators goaltender and current color analyst Chris Mason, who scored a goal during his playing days in Nashville.
“We just scored, it was a two-goal lead, and luckily the puck was flat on the ice and I was able to take a shot,” Rinne said shortly after lighting the lamp. “I like to play the puck, so I mean it’s something I’ve always dreamed of. So now I think the stars were lined up for me tonight.”
This was the first goalie goal since Mike Smith scored for the Phoenix Coyotes back on Oct. 19, 2013. Rinne is the second oldest goaltender to ever score a goal; only Martin Brodeur was older when he scored on March 13, 2013.
Vasilevskiy & Bishop Earn Shutouts
Just when everyone was ready to write off the Tampa Bay Lightning, they, all of a sudden, look like the juggernaut many predicted them to be at the start of the season. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves in 4-0 win over the first-place Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. The shutout was the first of the season and the 19th of Vasilevskiy’s career.
“[The shutout] means a lot for our team and [Vasilevskiy],” said Nikita Kucherov, who scored twice in the victory. “He’s been unbelievable. Regardless of what people are going to say about his game, I think he’s the best player in the league, and he proved it tonight. He’s been proving it all season.”
The Lightning has won nine games in a row and now sit in second place of the Atlantic Division. They have pulled themselves to within seven points of the first-place Boston Bruins.
Meanwhile, in Anaheim, former Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop made 27 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the Ducks. The veteran netminder also had an assist in the Dallas Stars’ sixth straight victory.
“[Shutouts] seem to be getting slimmer and slimmer these days in the League,” Bishop said after the game. “The guys did a great job. Some big blocked shots there and a couple opportunities where they had some backdoor opportunities, and the guys did a great job picking up their guys, so it’s a team effort.”
Bishop now has two shutouts on the season and 33 in his NHL career.
Talbot Comes Up Huge Versus Wild
Winning streaks were the theme last night as the Calgary Flames also extended their streak to four games in a row with a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Cam Talbot was the man of the hour as he made 42 saves to pick up his second straight victory. He gave up a lone goal against 32 shots at the Blackhawks on Tuesday night. In his last two starts, Talbot has allowed just two goals on 75 shots for a .973 save percentage (SV%). He is 5-2-0 with a 1.93 goals-against average (GAA) and .944 SV% in his past eight games.
“It’s huge to keep this streak going,” Talbot said during his postgame press conference. “We’ve got four more games before the (All-Star Game) break and we’re trying to separate ourselves from the teams below us and catch the teams above us. We know these games are going to be huge coming up.”
With the recent hot streak, the Flames are now tied with the Edmonton Oilers for third place in the Pacific Division. The Oilers currently own the tiebreaker because they have more regulation wins at this point. However, the Flames do hold the first wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.